My Review of The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3) by Deborah Harkness

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Info from Goodreads:

The #1 New York Times bestselling series finale and sequel to A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night

Fans of the All Souls Trilogy sent this highly anticipated finale straight to #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. Bringing the series’ magic and suspense to a deeply satisfying conclusion, The Book of Life is poised to become an even bigger phenomenon in paperback.

Diana and Matthew time-travel back from Elizabethan London to make a dramatic return to the present—facing new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home, Sept-Tours, they reunite with the beloved cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency.

Paperback, 561 pages – Published May 26th 2015 by Penguin Books (first published July 1st 2014)

My Review

4-4.5/5 stars (depending on the day)

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Trigger warnings: violence, mention and talk of rape(s)

Sorry it has taken me SO LONG to get this posted but I did it. Lol. Hopefully before the month is up I can get you a post regarding my thoughts on the TV adaptation of this series. Let me just say I’m not happy, although it was still interesting…mostly…sort of…*sigh*

I was all set to give this book 5 stars but I’ve been re-thinking it. The Goodreads’ rating system is what I refer to when I’m thinking simply about how I feel.

  • One star – did not like it
  • Two stars – it was okay
  • Three stars – liked it
  • Four stars – really liked it
  • Five stars – it was amazing

Four stars for sure as I really liked it but I got stuck thinking how I loved this book but I don’t know if it necessarily is amazing. Ugh… and yet I think the series as a whole is pretty amazing.

While I disagree with a lot of other reviewers I do agree that this book has a lot of flaws. I’ll be more transparent here. Okay, I was set on five stars right and then I read several other reviews with two stars that made some pretty valid points in terms of unanswered questions. Then I felt kind of embarrassed that I still liked this book so much when Deborah Harkness and her editor(s) really missed some key points, or didn’t care to include them. That said I think it says a lot about the book that even without those answers – some of them key plot points – I was wholly satisfied with the ending. And yet, even as I think about these complaints I recall that I’m very sad to see this trilogy come to an end as I will miss the characters.

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Unlike the bad reviews I didn’t mind the large amount of characters, especially those brought back from the other books. Sure there was a lot to keep up with but I think Harkness did it well. For the most part I found the majority of the characters, especially all the “important” ones, to be distinct. There are some very satisfying character reveals. As far as characters are concerned, five stars all day!

She does change POV from chapter to chapter and it is a little strange at times. I can’t say I loved it, this being one of the complaints from the bad reviews. For me these changes were like that little bump in the sidewalk that you don’t catch when you’re strolling along having a lovely time and then OPE, you trip but catch yourself and turn around like WHAT THE HECK! Huh, what a nice little rush of adrenaline. And you walk on, BUT you DON’T fall and wreck your day. These POV changes tripped me up a second but the bulk of the story kept me moving along swiftly.

Maybe half way through the book I felt like I did after a couple seasons of the TV show True Blood. (I did not read the books by the way.) It got weird and not in a cool way. It was like they were trying too hard to make things extra different. I started to worry about this happening in The Book of Life. If you’ve gotten this far in the series you already know Diana is an incredible witch with all the powers a witch can have. Sure that’s a trope that bothers some from the get go, not me, and it might bother even more people as her power grows and grows. But let’s be honest, that’s what this story is about. This story is about that extraordinary moment in time when everything changes. A time when two powerful people discover each other and more about themselves. In my humble opinion, tropes are a problem when the story and characters are lacking, perhaps that’s why the bad reviews exist, because for those people it was lacking. I disagree; I think the story itself carried its weight. The content woven in and out, the character arcs and the constant discoveries, however great or small, worked for me.

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All in all I can’t make a decision, some days it’s 4 stars, others it’s 4.5. Either way I was satisfied. My great aunt has finished book two at this point and she’s on to book three so we’ll see what she thinks about this finale.

As I mentioned there is a TV adaptation of this series on AMC (pretty sure). It’s over now but of course you can find it on demand on Sundance or AMC (depends on your subscriptions of course). They are planning a second season, and I will watch it no matter how frustrated the first one made me.

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In other news Deborah Harkness published her latest book (and I do believe the first since The Book of Life) Time’s Convert (All Souls Universe, #1) in September 2018. I think it’s fair to say it’s a paranormal fantasy romance that follows the history of Marcus – Matthew’s vampire son – up to the present. I’m not sure yet how I feel about reading this but I’ve signed up for a giveaway so if I win then of course I’ll be reading it. We’ll see.

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Thanks for reading everyone. Please let me know what you think about this series if you’ve read it or maybe you want to? If I’ve introduced you to the series please do give me a shout out. See you next time!

My Review of Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness

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Info from Goodreads

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Hardcover, 584 pages – Published July 10th 2012 by Viking Adult

4/5 stars

This book deserves a Wow as well. Forgive me as I stumble over reviewing this because I’m not so sure how to do so without spoiling some of the first book. It’s like seeing a preview to a movie sequel before you’ve seen the first one, now you definitely know that one lady lives because she’s in the second trailer. So then I say to you dear reader, if you haven’t read the first book, A Discovery of Witches, and you think you will, don’t read this yet. I recommend you just go right to reading it or you can read My Review of A Discovery of Witches. I have no doubt if you enjoy the first one at all you’ll have to read the second. By all means if you’ve read the first and are still unsure, then read on! Or please if you’ve read them both or the whole trilogy and want to discuss your thoughts and feelings read on and let’s chat. I’d love to hear how you thought it worked or what didn’t. However, PLEASE do not spoil book three for me!

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Okay, some basic spoilers to follow…

This book got saucy with the romance, which we knew it had to but not being a regular romance reader it made me blush. While the author went there with the intimacy I don’t think she overdid it. The scenes weren’t long and drawn out and many times they concluded or started with other bits of useful information. I really appreciate that about a writer, when they don’t box a scene up to serve one purpose. If you don’t like romance or reading about intimacy AT ALL, you’ll probably get more than a little annoyed. That being said, Diana and Matthew’s relationship is central to this story so, pick your battles. Oh and for those of you that might be triggered, there are a couple aggressively passionate love scenes between Matthew & Diana. They’re not abusive or unwanted, they’re just…intense to say the least. If you ask me, regardless how you feel about love scenes, the overall story is worth it. The scenes are at least PG-13 – R-rated, but don’t quote me on that.

Traveling back in time as we did was really interesting. I wondered how it would work out and if it would. Harkness did not disappoint with her research and ability to make it work in a natural way even though time travel is so unfortunately unnatural. Spoiler: she did not force the concept of hiding it from everyone. Lesser or less experienced (pardon me) authors might try and make you believe no one noticed Diana was out of place. You don’t just slip back into the 16th century unnoticed. Nope, not Harkness, she works with and through that. The other characters’ responses to such details are great.

Now, do I think this book had to be 584 pages? No. It would not have suffered from leaving some more pages on the cutting room floor. At least halfway through the book you might be feeling like you’re more than ready to move on from time traveling. There were at least a few places where they mentioned going back to the…future/present and I got excited for a change of pace. Alas it did not yet come. But that’s not to say the time spent in the past was full of the same monotonous routine. Not at all. A lot happens in 1590-1, interesting twists and turns full of creepy people. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot we could have skipped.

That’s probably my biggest critique besides Deborah Harkness’ love for lots of setting and time period details, not my favorite. If I liked this amount of detail than she deserves a high five. 😉

This book is full of emotion. There’s so much going on what with Matthew returning to a past he once knew, people he once knew and loved. We get to dive into his vulnerability and watch him fight to unfold, unfold and then come back together again. The relationship with his father Phillipe is very special, never mind that Phillipe himself is a well-written, nuanced character. I do hope they personify him well in the TV series because he’s so iconic. It would be an enormous shame should they miss the mark. We meet a lot of other great characters, including Matthew’s nephew Gallowglass. The characters alone are a great reason to read this book.

This book really gives us a chance to get to know Matthew better. Plus I really enjoyed getting a better look at the history of witches, vampires, and daemons. The traditions and ceremonies were fun, sometimes drawn out, but still interesting.

Lastly…

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I want to address something I saw people complaining about in the first book: Matthew’s dominant, aggressive personality and behaviors. It seemed his character got the feminists all riled up. Don’t forget that Diana is more than attracted to Matthew, she’s wildly in love with him, all of him. She’s more than capable of handling herself and is in no way an unwilling participant or victim here. I am not implying that whatever he does is made okay because she loves him. Nor am I saying that love somehow makes abuse okay. I’m also not saying that a woman who can handle herself can’t be abused. All I’m saying is keep it in the context of the story. Diana is not abused or taken advantage of by Matthew. But there are OTHER people who abuse and physically harm Diana, as we saw in the first book.

It’s not okay to hurt or (try to) control another person, whether you’re a man, woman or child. It’s also important to be able to distinguish an abusive person from a personality you just don’t care for. Masculinity is not toxic, but not unlike femininity, it can be.

Deborah Harkness didn’t create a chauvinistic prick in Matthew. No, she created a 1,500+ year old alpha male vampire with heavy emphasis on the fact that he is a predator, and I mean predator as in the animal kingdom, not a sexual predator. Matthew is very cognizant of his domineering behavior and worries about the parts of him that make him dangerous. In the first book you discover that he is avoiding being intimate with her. He’s worried about the possessive nature of a vampire once they take a mate. I get it if the aggression triggers you and any trauma you may have experienced, and for that I’m sorry if you have those experiences. I’m very sorry if you or anyone you care for has been affected by abuse and/or violence of any kind. It’s never acceptable for anyone to be taken or used in any way against their will. I do not condone violent masculinity and I’m not supporting it here. But there’s a difference between highly masculine men and abusive masculinity. However that is NOT what is happening in this story with Diana and Matthew. His over-protectiveness is not the abusive kind; he has EVERY right to be worried about and for her. His behavior cannot be taken out of context. And lest you forget, Diana more than handles herself when she thinks people MIGHT being pushing her around.

Diana and Matthew’s relationship is not an abusive one. While there are elements that might trigger you, kept in the context of the story, you will see that there is a real relationship of love and compassion. And let me tell you, Diana does more than what she wants. There are more than plenty of instances where Diana will annoy you because she doesn’t listen and just goes and does what she wants. Trust that Diana very much her own woman no matter.

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I welcome your thoughts and comments, but not your book three spoilers. 😉 If you read this based on my referral please give me a shout out on your blog and link back to me here. I will start reading Book 3, The Book of Life, immediately following so stay tuned for my review of that in the next couple weeks. Then I’ll give watching the AMC TV series a try, although I’ll tell you right now, I don’t like their pick for Matthew.

Thank you! If you want to read more of my reviews, CLICK HERE.

You can also see what I’m reading at 2019 TBR

Or what I plan to read soon Spring 2019 TBR

My Review of The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst

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Info from Goodreads:

(My review follows)

The natural magic of the classic The Island of the Blue Dolphins meets the danger and courage of The Hunger Games in this dazzling, intricate stand-alone fantasy novel set in award-winning author Sarah Beth Durst’s beloved world of Renthia.

Life is precious and precarious on the islands of Belene. Besieged by a capricious ocean full of malicious spirits, the people of the islands seek joy where they can. Mayara, one of the island’s fearless oyster divers, has found happiness in love. But on the day of her wedding to the artist Kelo, a spirit-driven storm hits the island with deadly force.

To save her loved ones, Mayara reveals a dangerous secret: she has the power to control the spirits. When the storm ends, she is taken into custody by the queen’s soldiers and imprisoned with other women like her.

They vary in age and social status, but to many they are heroes who will aide the country or witches that will sacrifice themselves trying. No matter who they are, the women are sent to a terrifying place—an island filled with bloodthirsty nature spirits, and left without food, water, shelter, or any tools except their own instincts and magic. Whoever survives the Island of Testing will be declared heirs to the queen. But no matter if she wins or loses, Mayara knows that the life she dreamed of is gone.

368 pages – Published March 19th 2019 by Harper Voyager

My Review of The Deepest Blue

3/5 stars

It was very difficult for me to rate this book. In part because I’m a fan of this author and her Queens of Renthia trilogy as well as her book Lost (unrelated to this world or series). I think reviewing a book is made even more troublesome when you’ve been anticipating its release and it doesn’t live up to your expectations. That’s what happened here.

While I enjoyed the story, and I already enjoy spending time in Renthia, there are a number of things that felt superficial and missed their mark. I liked the main character Mayara. She’s tenacious and brave, and full of love for the people she cares about. The book opens beautifully on Mayara and Kelo’s wedding day. Right off the bat we get a taste of why Mayara’s family sometimes calls her reckless. We know this protagonist is going to take us on an adventure. For the most part the opening to this story was spot on. There is some spoiling that goes on in the rest of this review, not in detail but enough detail to spoil the story some or a lot.

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But then there were things that started to get to me. For instance, mentioning repeatedly how Mayara gets ready for a deep dive, how she compares so much to getting ready for a deep dive and every time she takes deep breaths we have to remember that that’s what she does when she’s getting ready for a deep dive. *Sigh.*

A major pet peeve of mine when it comes to reading in general, and something I’m trying to remember as I write my own book, is opportunistic writing, as I like to call it. I don’t like when characters are just made to fit because you need them to. Or turns in the story just go that way because the author needs them to, not because they flow naturally. In the case of this story, Mayara’s new found friend Roe has apparently been studying in secret and yet she seems to be no better at controlling the spirits than Mayara? How and why? In this case, if you’re going to make your character be awesome, more awesome than they should be, then build that case for us please. Don’t just say yup there you go, that’s how it is, Mayara is just a natural. Break some scenes down for me. Don’t just tell me oh yeah she’s not so good but then, she’s still got this. What does she figure out that helps her that she didn’t know before? How does she break through what she doesn’t know? Don’t just keep reminding me she’s not practiced but then showing me she’s plenty capable. Show me something in Mayara’s character that makes her special with regard to the scene. Other than her ability to swim and dive. Expand on these things.

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Again, these are notes to myself as I write and to all of us writers in addition to critique of this story. Remember show-don’t-tell is a relevant, worthwhile piece of advice. Even if it’s just a little scene or a little tidbit or even something that isn’t obvious, put it in there to show us this character has an edge. Show me, don’t just tell me they do. And don’t keep telling me about the same quality, that’s not enough to carry me through believing and rooting for her. Yes she’s brave and fearful and that’s real, but go deeper please. Show me how it comes to be that she navigates through these murky waters (pun intended) instead of expecting me to roll with it because she’s the main character, and ya know, that’s how it goes.

The author constantly tells us that Mayara likens every challenge to a deep dive and here’s the ritual that precedes it (please no more). Give us more of her inner character and how she breaks things down to get through them, but please know that once you’ve told us a couple times you don’t have to spell the same thing out every time thereafter. (Have I done it enough with regard to this detail? That’s how it felt reading.) It was things like that by the way that made me wonder if Mrs. Durst wasn’t getting confused with her art of writing middle grade. I’m probably reading into that since I know she writes in different age groups, nevertheless, that’s how I felt, that she at times forgot she was writing for adults.

Back to what I was saying: she tells us about getting ready for deep dives. (OMG, this again, really eLPy?) Tell us more about what’s happening that makes her capable of handling the spirits when, in this part of the world, girls hide their affinity for fear of being found out and sent to the island for testing. They don’t get to explore their affinities on their own or often. And maybe expand on this especially for those of us who have read the other series. What did Mayara miss by not being able to study her affinity? What does everyone miss? Don’t spend so much time on the same elements of love and Kelo and her family. Now she’s face to face with this affinity that she’s had to hide, how does she face it? What does that feel like for her to confront this?

It’s fair to say that we know from the start that this girl is going to be our hero, she’s going to go to the island. But what happens once we get there and even the immediate lead up to their departure feels so forced! She just so happens to be the last girl and now they’re off? So everyone else got to train for some undisclosed amount of time and she’s just shit out of luck? I know I’ve already given some spoilers here but I don’t think they’re too consequential however I won’t go into much detail in terms of other incidences that bothered me once they got to the island. All said and done for me it felt like the author tried too hard by not being creative enough to make Mayara the heroine. How? Why? How? There’s a lot that was opportunistic. Put her in a desperate situation because that’s what these stories do. Right? NO, don’t do that! I mean do it but show us readers how and why, not just because that’s what you think the story needs. Build us a sand castle but show us the tools, the methods, the failed attempts, the learning curves, the successes. Show us that the “it-just-so-happened-that” moments are realistic in your story, they don’t just happen. They happened. Don’t remind me I’m reading a made-up story.

Things like: so and so got injured so ya know, it’s all up to Mayara. Really? I mean, really? How perfect that our heroine has to do it on her own instead of someone more qualified with the spirits. Really? The whole scene on the island was tied up like a bow and way too neat. And I’m sorry but I was really hoping for the diversity of spirits that we saw in the previous trilogy. It’s really an inconsequential thing but I got sort of bored with the spirits seeming to be of the same five or so forms.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a fan of Sarah Beth Durst and I will continue to read her work. I do hope she continues in this world, in fact, I hope she explores the entire world, that whole darn map she drew for us! But please don’t sew them all up so nicely. I love happy endings, I’m not saying leave us with some sour bitter ends, but don’t make the bow so damn perfect!

There were some nice twists in this story, some conclusions that were satisfying but the end result as a whole was very disappointing because it was SO similar to another book she wrote. How did Mayara with her supreme lack of experience and training with spirits wind up in THAT position? I was left shaking my head going “REALLY! HOW?!” At least in one of the Queens of Renthia books the character built up, and worked up to her position. It didn’t “just-so-happen”. There are what should be deep emotional conversations that fall flat and/or feel like they’re written for a younger group. Then these violent scenes that are like whoa, was that for shock and awe, oh yes this is for young adult/adults. All in all, perhaps this book was rushed. It missed its mark for me. I don’t dislike Mayara or the other characters but I’m not connected to her. Do I want to see her again? Meh…sure? But give her some more meat please, more emotion, more depth.

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While you may think I’m a jerk and mean and all that fun stuff at this point – that’s fine – I will say I very much enjoyed the sociopath we met in previous books, Lady Garnah. She is a well-developed character who is both loathsome and likable in the strangest way. I dare say I had to root for her a few times. This character has had time to marinate and she works. She exhibits the difference between rushing a character and/or forcing their story to your will and allowing them to be who they are in the story. She was a welcome surprise and an A+ for me.

At the end of the book Durst explains that she wanted to write a book about someone growing and strengthening from love, not just pain. In her personal experience she grew a lot from her love for her husband and her family. I respect and admire her making this attempt to approach this from a different angle. That said while she didn’t completely miss the mark she kind of did because for me she tried so hard to stay on the love page that it felt like she may have deliberately avoided character and story development that leaned too much towards pain and hardship. I hope if we see Mayara again we get a full pallet of the colors of her personality and a deeper look inside.

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And it is with a heavy heart I give this book 3/5 stars. I have to be review with integrity so there it is. Sarah Beth Durst keep going, I can’t wait to read more, but this one I think IMHO needed more time in the oven especially given the deep philosophy behind what you were attempting.

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Note to myself and all authors, not every main character should be a queen.

May Reading & Writing Updates

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So it has been a while, again, since I’ve posted but I’m getting it together. 🙂 Of course come on this is fun! Getting behind and running to catch up, not so much.

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But that’s fine. Let’s start off with what I’m reading, well what I’m still reading. I’m still reading My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel and Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness. You might recall that I went ahead and DNF’d Everfair by Nisi Shawl, a decision I did not take lightly but it had to happen. April and these first two weeks of May… Holy cow it’s been two weeks since May started? Good lawd! I was saying, reading has been slow going largely because I’ve allowed myself to be distracted with other things at the end of the day. I’m correcting that now. I’ve updated my site (what do you think?) and I’m getting back to reading. My Great Aunt is still waiting for me to finish Shadow of Night so I better, and will, hurry that up.

I owe you my review for The Deepest Blue by Sarah Beth Durst. You’ll find that this week, hopefully tomorrow. Next up I’ll be reading The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan, #3 in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I’ll also be putting up some posts in the next few weeks about my writing experiences. As well I’ll share posts by fellow writers that I find to be especially helpful.

For This Post…

Above I’ve told you things you’ve probably already read if you’ve been here before so what’s new? Besides another episode of Game of Thrones (whoa, this last one was EPIC, at least as much if not more than episode #3, wow) and the Chi and Barry? Well
I got some new books at great prices, of course that meant I had to jump on them while I could. I’ll also share new additions to my TBR as well as my May/June TBR. Let’s get started.

Just today I received my latest book haul from Book Outlet. I’ve mentioned this site before but if you don’t already know about it let me tell you it’s a great resource for cheap books. They sell bargain books and scratch & dent copies. Also with each order you receive points you can redeem in a later order. In fact if you want to FOLLOW THIS LINK to Book Outlet you’ll help me earn points for referring a friend. I’m not just trying to sell you for points, I really think you’ll find their prices are sweet. They don’t have every book imaginable but they’ve got a lot. I figure I’ll get what books I can through them and then buy local or elsewhere.

This most recent haul includes:

This last one, the box set, I got three books for about $15, which I think is fantastic. I’ve heard loads of good things about V.E. Schwab, this series as well as Vicious and basically all her writing. I see on Goodreads the first book in this series is rated 5 stars by Deborah Harkness (author of All Souls Trilogy) of all people! I’ve also listened to some interviews with her on podcasts like Tim Clare’s Death of A Thousand Cuts. This probably bumps this up my TBR for me. These 9 books cost me under $50 with free shipping. Hey, that’s real good. I should be set for reading for a while…

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New Additions to My TBR

The following is a list of books I’ve added to my Goodreads TBR since April 1st until today May 13th. If applicable I give credit to the blogger or person who brought the book to my attention.

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Hex Life: Wicked New Tales of Witchery by Kelley Armstrong – Thanks Destiny @ Howling Libraries! – This book isn’t out until October of this year. It’s a collection of tales about witches and witchcraft by popular female fantasy authors. Not only does this sound interesting it could also be a great way to find new authors to read (as if I need anymore).

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Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – Thanks Sofi @ A Book. A Thought. – The premise of this book, after seeing it on Sofi’s page, reached my interest. Two sister’s go missing and one comes back? Hmmm…

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Planetfall (Planetfall, #1) by Emma Newman – Thanks Tim Clare @ Death of 1,000 Cuts podcast – I was intrigued by his interview with her. She talked about her personal struggles with mental illness and her use of it in her books. As well, when it comes to writing she mentioned that sometimes she hates it but keeps going because she works through things and ideas by writing. This is something I think I also try to do. Point being the author interested me as much as this book about “one secret withheld to protect humanity’s future might be its undoing…”

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Kingfisher by Patricia A. McKillip – Goodreads recommended this to me and I added it because I read Riddle Master trilogy by this author and I really enjoyed it. Her writing is creative and poetic, original and dynamic. This book won the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature in 2017. I’m interested in this idea of ancient magic on the rise and a boy learning from his sorceress mother facts she’s kept from him until now.

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Middlegame by Seanan McGuire – So I’m pretty sure I heard about this book through Destiny @ Howling Libraries first and then again from Sofi @ A Book. A Thought, who highly recommends it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m forgetting where else I’ve heard about it. This book has some high praises, even as it was just released a week ago (not including early review copies of course). On Goodreads it has 4.25 star rating out of 361 ratings. Roger’s skilled with Words. His sister Dodger’s skilled with numbers. They’re not human but they’re not exactly Gods either. Reed created them. Not their father, but not not their father. Hm…curious? I am.

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The Ice House by Tim Clare – This is the newly released sequel to The Honours which I read in April (here’s my review). You know by now I follow his podcast and am a fan. He’s a very talented writer and I look forward to reading this book probably this month to see whatever became of Delphine now that she’s an old lady.

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Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor – First I read The Book of Phoenix. Then I read Binti forgetting I’d read The Book of Phoenix. Naturally I need to read more of this author and this is book two, Akata Witch being #1. I just added these because I thought I already had, and I just got this and Lagoon below. This is (not Lagoon) a YA series the first released in 2011. In the first book the protagonist, a 12 year old girl, albino thus incredibly sensitive to the sun, befriends some other kids and is plunged into the world of the Leopard people where your worst defect becomes you best asset. They set out to track down a man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. I was hooked at “your worst defect becomes your greatest asset”, cool! Might be a good one for my niece and nephews.

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Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor – Besides what I’ve already shared, I added this book because well read the blurb:

” It’s up to a famous rapper, a biologist, and a rogue soldier to handle humanity’s first contact with an alien ambassador—and prevent mass extinction—in this novel that blends magical realism with high-stakes action.

After word gets out on the Internet that aliens have landed in the waters outside of the world’s fifth most populous city, chaos ensues. Soon the military, religious leaders, thieves, and crackpots are trying to control the message on YouTube and on the streets. Meanwhile, the earth’s political superpowers are considering a preemptive nuclear launch to eradicate the intruders. All that stands between 17 million anarchic residents and death is an alien ambassador, a biologist, a rapper, a soldier, and a myth that may be the size of a giant spider, or a god revealed.”

Yup, you know it, that sounds cool. Have you read any of these? Will you add them to your lists now? Let me know, give me a shout out and link back here if you do please. And let me know what you think if you read or have read these authors. I’d love to hear from you.

May/June TBR

Last but not least here’s what I hope to read from now until the end of June (not necessarily in this order):

  • Finish Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
  • Finish My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
  • Start & Finish The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan
  • Start & Finish Women Wartime Spies
  • Start & Finish The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman
  • Start A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
  • Start & Finish Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (I’m bumping this so I can share with the young folks)
  • Start The Book of Life (All Souls, #3) by Deborah Harkness
  • Start & Finish The Ice House by Tim Clare – because I just finished The Honours and why not?
  • Start & Finish Home (Binti, #2) & The Night Masquerade (Binti, #3) by Nnedi Okorafor
  • Start & Finish Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
  • Start The Greek Poets – Homer to the Present

And I almost forgot because I haven’t got it yet but Catching Teller Crow by Ambellin & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, published in Australia, is now in a paperback edition you can get through Amazon. Yeah!

That’s a great big list for me what with everything else going on, including of course my novel, gosh! Stay tuned there’s lots of fun to come. I’ll probably even tell you about my experiences helping out at my Aunt & Uncle’s sheep farm during their lambing season (AWESOME & inspiring). Maybe you’ll get to see some cute ass lambs. 😉 Thanks for reading my May Reading & Writing Updates.

Okay so whatcha got? Whatcha thinking?

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WWW Wednesday: 24 April 2019

Thanks Howling Libraries for your Wednesday meme post!

WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words where they revived it after its former host MizB at A Daily Rhythm. To participate you answer the 3 W’s (on Wednesday):

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

And of course I’ll link back to the host (click the link above) as well as link back to the blogger I first saw participating in this (the link to Howling Libraries). Finally I’ll post my link back to me on the host’s page! Yeah, go networking! Should you decide to participate then that’s what ya do. 😀

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What I’m Currently Reading:

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Okay guys, don’t make any faces. No, that’s fine, make faces or what have you. Lol. Still reading the non-fiction (well it’s been a minute since I picked it up to be honest) My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel. So much to do so little time I kind of forgot about this investigation into all things anxiety. Whoops…

Do I even mention Everfair by Nisi Shawl? Ugh, I haven’t picked it up in ages. I have by default DNF’d this I think it’s fair to say. I keep swearing that I’m going to finish it because I got as far as I did but every time I think about it it feels like a homework assignment. I guess I feel bad because this is inspired by real historical events, it’s an awesome concept and she’s a good writer. It’s an alternate history/historical fantasy/steampunk novel (that sounds cool by itself right?) about the Belgian occupation in the Congo. Here’s part of the Goodreads’ synopsis:

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Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britian join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.”

Now fast forward to discovering the narrative structure makes reading more difficult and disengaging than intriguing and engaging. Connecting with the characters was not so easily done and the story itself felt disjointed and lacking. But I REALLY REALLY wanted to like this! It has not been exciting as I thought it would be. So as of right now I’m going to DNF this book although I’ll let it linger on Goodreads.

Moving on…

I’m more than half way through Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy, #2) by Deborah Harkness. This is a big book in my world, 584 pages, but it’s pretty awesome. I loved the first one, A Discovery of Witches, and even got my

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Great Aunt reading it. She just asked me the other day if she could get book two as she would be finished with #1 soon. I was maybe a quarter in so

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she’s going to have to wait but I’ve turned up the reading especially considering the Goodreads group I’m in is reading this this month as well. I’d like to join some discussions.

This paranormal fantasy with some historical fiction going on as well as some saucy romance is well-written though very long what with all the setting descriptions (I do believe the author has a thing for historic buildings) among others. Let me just add that the romance gets turned up a bit in this book. 😉 There’s a large cast of characters but Diana (witch) and Matthew (vampire) are our main protagonists engaging in forbidden love, as adults. If you haven’t read A Discovery of Witches that might be a tad of a spoiler although it probably wouldn’t take you long to guess they’d

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hook up. I won’t say much more but I plan to use this book in a post about reading as a writer and how this story works. Deborah Harkness crafts a great story here with plenty of activity and intrigue, mystery and twists. I’ll finish this before the month is up and probably read the third book, The Book of Life, in May.

What I Recently Finished Was:

I finished this a couple weeks ago now, I know I know I owe you a review and I promised it would be forthcoming. Well folks I’m behind, so let’s just say you’ll get it this week. While I enjoyed this book I was a little disappointed. I would recommend it should you like what you read in the synopsis or if you liked the Queens of Renthia trilogy by this author. But I don’t think it lived up to the hype, at least not for me. I’m sitting between 3 – 3.5 stars, so it’s still good there’s just some specific things that kind of drove me nuts.

And since I haven’t done WWW Wednesday in forever I want to add the book I finished before The Deepest Blue, which was The Honours by Tim Clare. His new book The Ice House is coming out in early May, really looking forward to that. Tim is a podcaster I follow and now an author I also follow. I do recommend you check out his work as well as my review.

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What Will I Read Next?

Next up is The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan. This is the third book in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series, a very interesting fantasy series

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imagining a world with not only dragons but many different species of dragons. I’ve got all five books so know you’ll be hearing a bit about this series for the rest of the season.

I’ll also be starting The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present and Women Wartime Spies, both books from my post Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering books.

In addition I’ll be rereading Nnedi Okorafor’s The Book of Phoenix.

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Stay tuned for my May TBR (don’t think I ever posted an April TBR!) and plans for May. I do have my Spring 2019 TBR if you want to look a little farther into the future of what I plan to read. Then you can say oh yeah I do want to follow eLPy because I’m interested to hear about… 😉 And check out my 2019 TBR to look even farther in to the future. Expect updates!

I’ve got my mind on some writing based posts that I’m looking forward to writing, including Writer’s Block is Not A Thing. If you already disagree with me, great let’s discuss! So keep your eyes open for that post and see what I have to say. You never know, you just might agree with me after all.

Until next time this is what I’ve got for you for WWW Wednesday. If you read Everfair let me know what you think please. Maybe it just wasn’t my cup of tea, because she certainly deserves credit for her writing talent. And what about the others? Have you read the All Souls Trilogy? Did you love it? Do you know there’s a TV series that just premiered some weeks ago? I haven’t seen any of it because I don’t want to yet, at least not until I’ve finished book two. I’ll probably even wait until I’ve finished the whole trilogy.

Okay folks, I’m out for now. Thanks for reading my WWW Wednesday!

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Shelf Control – Wednesday, 27 March, 2019

This Wednesday bookish meme is hosted by BookShelf Fantasies. Thank you for letting us join in this fun!

From the host’s page:

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

Want to participate in Shelf Control? Here’s how:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • If you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate a link back from your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…

My Shelf Control

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

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From Goodreads:

Birds are astonishingly intelligent creatures. According to revolutionary new research, some birds rival primates and even humans in their remarkable forms of intelligence.

In The Genius of Birds, acclaimed author Jennifer Ackerman explores the newly discovered brilliance of birds. As she travels around the world to the most cutting-edge frontiers of research–the distant laboratories of Barbados and New Caledonia, the great tit communities of the United Kingdom and the bowerbird habitats of Australia, the ravaged mid-Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy and the warming mountains of central Virginia and the western states–Ackerman not only tells the story of the recently uncovered genius of birds but also delves deeply into the latest findings about the bird brain itself that are shifting our view of what it means to be intelligent. 

Consider, as Ackerman does, the Clark’s nutcracker, a bird that can hide as many as 30,000 seeds over dozens of square miles and remember several months later where it put them, or the mockingbirds and thrashers, species that can store 200 to 2,000 different songs in a brain a thousand times smaller than ours. 

But beyond highlighting how birds use their unique genius in technical ways, Ackerman points out the impressive social smarts of birds. They deceive and manipulate. They eavesdrop. They give gifts. They kiss to console one another. They blackmail their parents. They alert one another to danger. They summon witnesses to the death of a peer. They may even grieve. 

This elegant scientific investigation and travelogue weaves personal anecdotes with fascinating science. Ackerman delivers an extraordinary story that will both give readers a new appreciation for the exceptional talents of birds and let them discover what birds can reveal about our changing world. Richly informative and beautifully written, The Genius of Birds celebrates the triumphs of these surprising and fiercely intelligent creatures. From the Hardcover edition.

Paperback, 340 pages – Published April 11th 2017 by Penguin Books (first published April 12th 2016)

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How & When I Got It:

I don’t know. To be honest, it feels like I’ve had this book for a long time. When I found it lingering in my house late last year I assumed it was a book I’ve had for years because I’ve always loved birds. Then I saw the date of publication, and well, that solved some of that. Pretty sure I got this at a book store.

Why I Want to Read It:

I love birds.

Birds have always fascinated, since I was a girl. The start of spring is a great time to bump this up my TBR. You’ve heard it here now, a change to my Spring 2019 TBR & the first hint of my April Plans. And a sneaky addition to today’s WWW Wednesday. 😉

My favorite sign of spring is the growing sound of bird songs. I remember a couple weeks ago, even before the spring equinox, I stepped out my front door and immediately to my left in the shrubs was a pair of Robins. My heart joined them in their fluttering wings and feathers. I texted people close to me announcing what I’d seen. This was a beautiful sign for me. Regardless of the mess of the big world, in my small world, the Robins had arrived. I always wonder what’s happening inside the world of birds, especially since I live with two Parrots. When I was a little girl one of my favorite books was my first guide to bird watching. It was a thin hard cover, I still own it though the dust jacket is long gone. I drew pictures of Birds of Prey and put them in my bedroom windows to keep birds from flying into the glass. All things birds were cool with me. You can bet I will write about them one day.

I can’t wait to see what’s happening on the forefront of birds and their lives around the world. Hopefully you’ll join me.

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How do you feel about birds? Or what do you think about birds? Let’s talk!

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WWW Wednesday: 27 March 2019

Thanks Howling Libraries for your Wednesday meme post!

WWW Wednesday is a bookish meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words where they revived it after its former host MizB at A Daily Rhythm. To participate you answer the 3 W’s (on Wednesday):

  1. What are you currently reading?
  2. What did you recently finish reading?
  3. What do you think you’ll read next?

And of course I’ll link back to the host (click the link above) as well as link back to the blogger I first saw participating in this (the link to Howling Libraries). Finally I’ll post my link back to me on the host’s page! Yeah, go networking! Should you decide to participate then that’s what ya do. 😀

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Okay this week you’ll have to forgive me for the repetitive info but that’s life. In addition to this meme, I’ll be doing the meme Shelf Control hosted by BookShelf Fantasies. (Click HERE for my last week’s Shelf Control.) Thank you! Let’s get started with WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesday: Q1

What am I currently reading?

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The Honours by Tim Clare is the most recent I’ve started. I’m reading the Kindle edition and am 34% through it. Tim Clare is a podcaster, author, poet, comedian, and dad I listen to on a regular basis. This is the first I’ve read of his and I’m enjoying it so far. He’s a talented writer, he definitely shows instead of telling although I’m the kind of reader that doesn’t want EVERYTHING described to me. I like to get a sense of the surroundings but I’m really more concerned with the story itself. That said, I’m digging this and will certainly keep reading. I expect to finish this month. Also, he has a new book, The Ice House, coming out in May. So I want to enjoy this (hopefully) and be ready in time to pre-order The Ice House.

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Everfair by Nisi Shawl is a book I’ve been reading for a while now and I’m still reading it on account it’s been a bad two weeks of reading. I really just want to be done with it but it doesn’t deserve to be DNF’d at this point, at this point. If I went back to before I was 3/4 of the way through I might DNF it after all. She’s a talented writer but I don’t think this is an interesting story. I wish she would focus in on more of the meat and potatoes of the story. Each chapter is set in the future, near or far, it varies. The chapters also follow different characters. These changes in perspective are not clear, I wish there was a little more direction as to who we’re reading and why. The characters in my opinion aren’t very well fleshed out either. This will be finished this month.

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Another book I’ve been reading for a little while, and will continue to take my time with, is My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel. This is a non-fiction book about, you guessed it, anxiety. I’m not very far into this book but already I can see it’s very well researched and thorough (and with itty bitty print which means this book is even longer than it looks). I’ll finish this book in April. In the meantime I look forward to all that I’ll learn.

WWW Wednesday: Q2

What did I recently finish reading?

A fellow blogger’s post! Lol. Last week and this week so far have been pretty busy outside of the bookish world so I haven’t finished any books. Expect that to change for the next WWW Wednesday! I’ll have Everfair done by next week and who knows, I’ll aim my reading goals high.

WWW Wednesday: Q3

What do I think I’ll read next?

The Voyage of the Basilisk (Memoirs of Lady Trent #3) by Marie Brennan

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Cool cover right? This will be next, as soon as I finish Everfair. You might know I finished Book 2, The Tropic of Serpents, last month. Click HERE to read my review and see how I enjoyed it. I look forward to discovering new dragons with Lady Trent. Since finishing The Tropic of Serpents I’ve learned a little more about the author Marie Brennan. I’ve added some more of her books – she’s a prolific writer it seems – to my TBR and look forward to getting to know her better.

The Book of Phoenix (Who Fears Death 0.1#) by Nnedi Okorafor

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Check out my post March Plans for more on my history with this book. Then return here and read that since that post I started this book, sort of. Immediately I realized I’VE ALREADY READ THIS. I’VE ALREADY READ THIS! I think it was a couple years ago and I do not remember where I found this book but I do know I really enjoyed it. It seems only fair and right then that I read it again, something I do not do. So this book will be started before March ends. Started again because this last start did not count once I remembered I’d read this already. This book is magical futurism and a prequel to the World Fantasy-award winning novel, Who Fears Death. You know I will be reading that one too. Hats off to Nnedi Okorafor for her talented works. Do not mistake my poor memory for a bad book.

Lastly, as I mentioned in Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering Books I will be slowly working my way through The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present. Just a little at a time and that will start in this next line up.

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Okay, what do you think? You reading or have read any of these? Have you read any of these authors? What’s your WWW Wednesday?

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading! Check out my Spring 2019 TBR and comment there if you’re interested in any of those books.

You can also see my 2019 TBR, that should give you a good idea of what we may or may not have in common. Who knows, you might find that you want to stay posted with what I’m reading and talking about.

Have a great Wednesday everyone!

Spring 2019 TBR

Thank you Destiny @ Howling Libraries for your Spring TBR post. You inspired and motivated me to break my 2019 TBR down further into seasonal TBRs. It seems a strange thing to say this but gosh it’s almost hard to pin myself down, to commit to reading certain books within a certain time! Most of the time I base what I’m reading off spontaneous thoughts and feelings. I see a book, on my shelf or a shelf (or in my Kindle), and say okay that’s next or that’s now.

However as a book blogger and a blogger period I do think it helps to let my audience know what’s coming up in case you want to read along with me or follow me to stay tuned for a review. First I broke my Goodreads TBR down to my current 2019 TBR. And now I’m going to break that down to this here Spring TBR, in no particular order. Which, disclaimer, may be subject to change. 😉 Feel free to post your comments at the end. Thank you!

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This first title, Catching Teller Crow by Ambelin Kwaymullina & Ezekiel Kwaymullina, is a book I found at Books and Tea with Brittany. Brittany is an Australian blogger I just found and mentions this book is by Aborginal authors. It sounds really interesting, a woman has died and her father a detective is the only one who can see her and together they work to solve a mystery. Follow the above link to read the full synopsis on Goodreads.

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The Deepest Blue By Sarah Beth Durst JUST came out, and I even more JUST got my copy. This is a standalone continuation of the Tales of Renthia. Prior to this book there was the Queens of Renthia trilogy that I read and enjoyed very much last year. So it’s with great joy I heard about this from Mrs. Durst’s page, a story set in another part of the same world. Yeah!

Oh and I read the book Lost and loved it by this author but the rest of the trilogy apparently isn’t forthcoming after all. However we may have reason to believe that series will be put to TV or movie. Oh my gosh, let’s hope so! That was a great book and I really wish they would have published the rest of the trilogy/series.

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Another trilogy I’m very happy to be reading. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness is the second in the All Souls Trilogy. The first was A Discovery of Witches. Kind of a big book but it was well worth it. In fact I just lent the book to my Great Aunt, let’s see if she likes it! I’m not a Twilight fan so if you also aren’t don’t get worried when I say witches, vampires, daemons and more. We’ve got ancient magic, a witch discovering her powers and why is everyone so obsessed with her? There’s some romance here – not a romance reader myself – and it works for me, well at least the first book. This is also a book that they’re going to be reading in the Goodreads’ group Bookworm Bitches in April. I’ll be reading this along with them.

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If you’ve read any of my other posts yet you might know I’m going to be reading this very soon, like this week. The Voyage of the Basilisk by Marie Brennan is the third book in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I recently finished The Tropic of Serpents #2, click to learn more. Imagine reading a journal of sorts about a woman in a different, though similar, world long ago studying dragons around the world. You can bet I’ll be reading this entire series (I think there’s five total.) I’ll also be following the author in the future.

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The Honours by Tim Clare is a fantasy book I just started, well like a week ago. I follow his podcast about writing, Death of A Thousand Cuts, and wanted to give his writing a shot. This is the first book, a sequel is to follow this May. My plan is to finish this, hopefully love it, and pre-order his second book, The Ice House, and provide a fellow author the much-needed support.

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Binti – Home by Nnedi Okorafor is the second book in this trilogy. This science fiction story started with Binti (my review here) which was a short and great read about a young lady leaving her home for a distinguished university on another planet. But of course, it’s not that simple, things go real wrong. Original, creative, beautiful story. Can’t wait. This one’s a little longer but 176 pages, not long. I’ve also read – forget I read it years ago and re-added to my TBR – Book of Phoenix by Nnedi and became a fan of hers then. You can expect to hear about more from this author.

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The Night Masquerade is the final book in this trilogy. Little big longer than the first two but still short at about 200 or so pages. Definitely plan to finish this series this spring.

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Women Wartime Spies by Ann Kramer is a book I’ve had in my personal library for a LONG time. I wrote about this and other such books in the post Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering Books. Check it out.

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I’m currently reading My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel. This is a sort of academic non-fiction that I’m slowly picking my way through. It’s very interesting and well-researched. He not only shares his own experience with mental illness but looks into the history and research surrounding anxiety disorders. Check it out if you’re curious.

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Yes I’m still reading this. Ugh, these last few weeks have not been good reading weeks. But Everfair by Nisi Shawl will hopefully be finished this week. I’m including it here because it’s spring and I’m currently reading this, so I think it makes sense to add it to my Spring TBR. I will say if you haven’t read it here already, I’m not loving this book and have fought to finish instead of DNF. Stay tuned for my review.

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Yes I will be re-reading this as I recently realized that I have in fact read this book a couple years ago. Imagine that. That means I came across Binti having forgotten I’ve already read from this author! Lol, oh dear. I do remember that I really liked this book and I think I owe it a re-read even though reading books more than once is not really my thing. But The Book of Phoenix by Nnedi Okorafor is an awesome book.

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Another book my from Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering Books series. The Greek Poets – Homer to the Present is a behemoth I will start reading this spring, maybe I’ll finish or maybe I won’t until summer. Either way I’m going to pick at this slowly with no rush to finish.

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Here we have another from Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering books. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren has been sitting on my shelf for a couple years. It’s about time and perfect for the season to read about a woman in science with a love for plants. Right up my alley.

Wow, I feel so limited to have to stop and yet I’m not a fast reader! When I think about how much time I actually have, what with work and writing my novel, this is an ambitious list for the next couple of months. I want to add more just because I get excited thinking about reading books but I have to be realistic. Besides, I’d rather be like oh my gosh people, I read alllllllllllllll those and here’s another. LOL! Or maybe they’ll bleed over into summer. Whatever the case, this is going to be a good season for bookish adventures.

Stay tuned for my more detailed April plans or go back and check out March Plans, whatever makes you happy.

I’d love to know if you’re reading any of these books or plan to. Now don’t go spoiling anything for me but I still want to hear your thoughts. What about your Spring list, are we similar? Not at all, no way? Do you think I’m crazy for trying to read all these or maybe you’re more crazy than me? Come on, comment, let’s share notes.

Please like and comment if you enjoy my posts. Absolutely please do follow me if you want to keep up and stay tuned. I post reviews shortly after I finish books and I’m posting monthly plans so you have a better idea of what’s coming up.

Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers!

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This Saturday’s installment for Here’s What’s Up is bookish. The theme is re-discovering books. By this I mean books I’ve had for a long time just chilling on the shelf.

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While packing and unpacking a recent move I encountered books that had long become decorative pieces that made up those things called bookshelves. It’s easy to get on a kick about a certain subject, author, theme, you name it. You pick up some books. You put them on the shelf then stand back in awe of the beauty they’ve added to your collection. Ah if only you could read faster and read them all this week, or this month perhaps. Sigh.

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Then life does that thing it does and makes a turn, a hard turn sometimes at that. You forget all about how hard-pressed you were to read your entire library, new and old. How you’d just found this new author and picked up two of their 15 books with the promise to read them all. Those new books on your bookshelf fade into the background. They become a piece of decorative wall art. That one you started with the cool new bookmark gets buried on your desk or permanently lodged in the bag you were always carrying before time changed. Your books are now in the ether of dreams. Fear not! Here’s what’s up with those books (well mine).

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As I unpacked my books I sorted them. These are going to be sold or given away. Those are going to be packed and put in the attic (until a new bookshelf magically appears). And these, yup these right here, are going to be put somewhere nearby and added to my TBR. The books I mention here are books of different origins and eras (in my life) that I will add to my 2019 TBR. They are all over the place in genre and decade, as well as condition. Most I’ve not read. So I thought it would be fun to share some of my new old stock with you for this week’s Here’s What’s Up Book Lovers: Rediscovering books.

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OH bonus for this post is the fact that this first book fits right into Women’s History Month, which is right now, March, in case you didn’t know. And let’s just say all the books I add written by women count because well they’re history, they’ve already been published. 😉

Women Wartime Spies by Ann Kramer

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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From Mata Hari through to Noor Inyat Khan, women spies have rarely received the recognition they deserve. They have often been trivialized and, in cinema and popular fiction, stereotyped as vamps or dupes. The reality is very different. As spies, women have played a critical role during wartime, receiving and passing on vital information, frequently at considerable risk. Often able to blend into their background more easily than their male counterparts, women have worked as couriers, transmitters and with resistance fighters, their achievements often unknown. Many have died. Ann Kramer describes the role of women spies during wartime, with particular reference to the two world wars. She looks at why some women chose to become spies, their motives and backgrounds. She looks at the experience of women spies during wartime, what training they received, and what skills they needed. She examines the reality of life for a woman spy, operating behind enemy lines, and explores and explodes the myths about women spies that continue until the present day. The focus is mainly on Britain but will also take an international view as appropriate.

Hardcover, 171 pagesPublished 2011 by MJF Books

Here’s what’s up with this book:

Yes it was a bargain priced book at Barnes & Noble that pushed me to buy this book. But what really made me reach for it is the fact that my late Grandmother was a W.A.S.P., a Women’s Airforce Service Pilot. These women were trained pilots who tested and ferried aircrafts in addition to training other pilots during World War II. Their existence meant that more men were freed up for combat. Despite the courageous work they did they had no military standing. In fact, they didn’t receive veteran status for their World War II service until 1977. Then in 2009, President Barack Obama signed the WASP Congressional Gold Medal bill into law. My Grandmother was lucky enough to live to see and attend that day. She was a brave, adventurous woman who continued to fly until old age deemed it unsafe. I’ll never forget the story of how she applied to fly for a commercial airline as a young woman but was turned down. They said she was over-qualified for the job but would not be hired because she was a woman.

Hats off to you Grandma! Thank you to all the WASPs and to all the vets everywhere. My Grandfather is also a WWII vet. So this book drew my interest for personal reasons, though neither of them were spies. I hope to read it in April.

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The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge (Book #1) by Carlos Castaneda

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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The story of a remarkable spiritual journey, the first awesone steps on the road to becoming “a man of knowledge,” the road that continues with A Separate Reality and Journey To ixtlan. Includes The Teachings and A Structural Analysis.

Paperback, 288 pages – Published 1983 by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster (first published 1968)

Here’s what’s up with this book:

To be honest I don’t remember exactly how and why I have this. I kind of know why. It’s a book I’ve heard of before and thought eh, let’s see what this is all about. Seemed up my ally. And when I open the cover of this used, I’d say worn paperback, I find I wrote my name and 07/06′. There ya go, I got this in 2006 either at a garage sale (maybe) or used book stand/store.

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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Acclaimed scientist Hope Jahren has built three laboratories in which she’s studied trees, flowers, seeds, and soil. Her first book is a revelatory treatise on plant life—but it is also so much more. 

Lab Girl
 is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work.

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home.

Hardcover, 290 pagesPublished April 5th 2016 by Knopf (first published March 1st 2016)

Here’s what’s up with this book:

This book as you see above is about three years old, which is probably how long I’ve had it. I like science and I love plants. This book was 20% off in Barnes & Noble and therefore out on display. The cool cover and the title drew me in like fish on a line. And come to find out, it was nominated for a whole bunch of awards! This is right on time for Spring TBR.

The Greek Poets: Homer to the Present, edited by Peter Constantine, Rachel Hadas, Edmund Keeley, & Karen Van Dyck

Synopsis from Goodreads:

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This landmark volume captures three millennia of Greek poetry—more than 1,000 poems and 200 poets. From the epics of Homeric Greece to the historical and erotic ironies of Cavafy, from the romances, hymns, and bawdy rhymes of Byzantium to the innovative voices of a resurgent twentieth century, this anthology brings together the diverse strands of the Greek poetic tradition. The favorites are all here—raging Achilles, restless Odysseus, strong-hearted Penelope—but The Greek Poets also presents neglected eras, from the rise of Constantinople to the end of the Ottoman occupation. In offering canonical poets such as Sappho and Pindar, and the modern Nobel laureates Seferis and Elytis, the renowned editors give us their new translations and bring together other masterful translators, including Robert Fagles, James Merrill, and W. S. Merwin, along with a younger generation that includes Anne Carson, Paul Muldoon, and Alicia Stallings. This is an essential companion to the Western literary tradition.

Hardcover, 736 pages – Published December 14th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company

Here’s what’s up with this book:

This behemoth was a gift. I believe at the time I got this book (not when it was published) I was in the midst of or had already published my poetry book. It was an interest (and still is though it’s a bit side-lined) of mine to read more poetry especially classics such as these. So a family member found this book and wah-la! It joined my shelf…

Let me be candid in saying I didn’t request to read the Greek Poets specifically (don’t give me that kind of credit) and I did take Intro to Mythology in college but by now, these will be new adventures all over again, and just new period. I’m actually kind of excited. 😉

Of course given what it is, this is a big book. And because it’s a compilation, I don’t feel pressure to read it in one take all on its own. Phew. This is a book I will pick at, reading some here and there with the goal to finish this spring (deadline: summer equinox).

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As I wrote this I decided that Here’s What’s Up: Rediscovering Books will be ongoing until announced otherwise. I’m going to stop this post at four books though there are many others that I have rediscovered. I think I’ll pop in every so often and update or add to these ongoing discoveries. You’ll find books like Dana Stabenow’s Liam Campbell & Kate Shugak series, as well as books I’ll be reading for research for my novel, and a number of non-fiction books. This series of posts will probably extend to titles that come to mind as I travel down the rabbit hole of the past and authors I used to read.

Of course when I finish a book I’ll have something to say about it. I mean that’s the point of a book blog right? So stay tuned for my progress on these books, reading to start in April. Which also means you should stay tuned for my April Plans post and an update to March Plans, progress report or something to that effect.

Now it’s comment time! Are you familiar with any of these books I’ve posted here?

What do you do when you “re-find” old books? After reading this consider going back to your older bookshelf and browsing for new old finds. If you decide to do a similar post please link back to me here and post your link in my comments. This could be a fun book meme! And of course tell me about your rediscoveries!

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My DNF and Review of Gutshot by Amelia Gray

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I really tried with this book; I swore I was going to finish it even though I’d taken almost zero interest in the first 80 pages I read. Last night I skipped around to a few more stories because I felt guilty about the very idea that I was going to DNF it. You can’t just quit a book!

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But where’s my integrity? I’ve been talking about DNFing and reading other blog posts about DNFing books. At the end of the day I think we all agree there’s not enough time to spend it reading a book you don’t like when we all also agree that there’s too many books to read every single one you could ever want! So there I was reading a book that was like plugging my nose to avoid tasting what I’m eating. I just wanted to hurry up and get through it and call it read.

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If I had one hundred or so pages left to go in that book but I was barely interested 80 pages in, why? That’s one hundred pages I could be into the next book such as The Honours or The Voyage of the Basilisk. At least the latter I know I’m going to like a little bit because I’ve liked the first two in The Memoirs of Lady Trent series. And The Honours, well I know there’s a story there, it sounds interesting, and I like the author’s podcast. Do I really want to keep reading a collection of stories that has me saying

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This might as well be my review but no, I’m going to follow the format I’ve used on other books and give you my Goodreads review.

Info from Goodreads:

(My DNF & review of Gutshot follows)

A searing new collection from the inimitable Amelia Gray

A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray’s curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges. These singular stories live and breathe on their own, pulsating with energy and humanness and a glorious sense of humor. Hers are stories that you will read and reread—raw gems that burrow into your brain, reminders of just how strange and beautiful our world is. These collected stories come to us like a vivisected body, the whole that is all the more elegant and breathtaking for exploring its most grotesque and intimate lightless viscera.

Paperback, 209 pagesPublished April 14th 2015 by Fsg Originals (first published March 3rd 2015)

My DNF & Review of Gutshot by Amelia Gray

1/5 stars (sorry, not sorry)

I don’t know if it’s fair to leave a rating for a book I didn’t finish but then again this is a testament to how I feel about this book and what I’d rate it, so I did.

The reason I DNFed this book is because it wasn’t interesting to me. I gave it a chance, for real, I read almost half the book. Let me tell you it is very difficult for me to just quit a book. Given how small it is I was determined to read it in its entirety but then I came across a story that was extra graphic and violent. It turned me off completely. I’m not skittish about violence but this felt like it was just violent to be violent. I’m sure there was a deeper meaning but it wasn’t worth spending anymore time on it, even though I read the story to the end to see if it was worth it after all. Nope. The stories I did read in addition to that one weren’t anymore interesting. So many of them were pointless. At the end of the story I’d sit there thinking, did I miss something or was that not a story at all? I got tired of wondering about the rest of the story between the lines, I couldn’t get into the story on the lines.

I get stories having a deeper meaning and subtle nuances but they have to be interesting to start. Sure there were pieces here and there that made me decide to keep reading. I thought this was going to be my cup of tea but turns out it’s not. And I’ve decided not to be afraid to DNF books that I’m just not connecting to at all. Why when there are so many I will enjoy at least half the time? 

I like weird stories but I want there to be a story, some meat on the bone and these stories were just bone IMHO, like broken bones. Reading the blurb again I feel a little cheated because that makes the book sound really interesting. It turned out to be like a movie trailer in which all the good parts are in the trailer.

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Have you read this book? Do you plan to? Let me know what you thought, feel free to share your thoughts even if you disagree. I love discussion!

CLICK HERE to check out my other reviews.

And visit my 2019 TBR to see what’s piquing my interest. You’ll find what I’ve read so far this year, what I’m currently reading, and what I plan to read. How do our TBRs compare?